Fan Mail


Last year, I decided to offer a workshop on breaking into online/print pubs and how to pitch properly. I posted about it regularly on FB and Twitter.

The Write Pitch

I asked a few of my influential Twitter friends to tweet out the info. And they did. And the response I got was huge. And then I sent out an email and asked my influential publishing industry friends to forward. And they did. And the response was huge.

And I got lots of folks. And I had to rent a bigger space. And a good time was had by all. I loved it. LOVED. I decided I wanted to have a workshop monthly forever and ever amen.

I met Shenequa at my workshop. Knew within 30 seconds that she had that special something. That It. Got her working in publishing a few months later. And she's doing the damn thing.

I met Shenequa at my workshop. Knew within 30 seconds that she had that special something. That It. I whispered her name in the ear of someone looking for someone. And she’s been doing the damn thing ever since.  Get to know her. She’s gonna be assigning you work one day so you might as well introduce yourself now.

I did a repeat performance a few months later. But I could not bring myself to ask folks to disseminate the information again. I just posted on my own. Still got a decent turnout.

But then what? I had no idea how to keep the momentum up. I had gotten a head start from my friends. But I didn’t have any confidence to try it again. What would I do? Post on FB and Twitter every day again?  Then everyone would hate me…

How would I reach a larger audience without having a budget for ads and such? How could I organically grow a community that would enthusiastically carry my message? Instead of just begging?

I know this is what crosses your mind when someone keeps begging you to Like, Fan, or come to their Event. Or whatever.

I know this is what crosses your mind when someone keeps begging you to Like, Fan, or come to their Event. Or whatever.

I asked my mentor. Her answer was swift.

“Why don’t you have a Fan Page? That’s precisely what it’s for.”

Ugh. A Fan Page.

When I joined Facebook, a few folks told me to create a separate fan page for myself. I could not bring myself to do that.

I felt like: Who do you think you are? What makes you think someone wants to be your Fan as opposed to being your Friend?

I will be honest. I have a very hard time joining Fan Pages. Because once I join, I will get all the updates. And I may love you. But I may not love whatever you’re pushing.

The word “fan” has always bothered me. When celebrities say, “I do this for my fans!” or “I love my fans.” it makes me feel weird. I could never ever refer to the people who read my books as my fans. I call them my dear readers or my supporters or my community.

So, the very title fan page turned me off the entire concept. I decided my personal Facebook Page would be my one-stop-shop. Which meant that I simply added every. single. person who requested.

I mean, there are some exceptions of course. Like if I hate you. Or if you have no profile picture. Or your name is John PopthatCoochie. Or we dated in eleventh grade and you were still in love with your ex and just wouldn’t admit it and then ended up dating some chick who wanted to fight me in a supermarket parking lot. (I kid, Darnell, I kid. Except not really. Remember your girlfriend wanted to fight me in the supermarket parking lot?)

Also? Fan pages are blatant marketing. I’m not good at that. sad but true. A fan page says, I am good enough. I am smart enough. And Doggone it people like me!

And then, fan pages are open to anybody. So even John PopThatCoochie would be able to lurk and see my stuff. And I don’t just post about writing. I post about cooking and braiding hair and running and everything else. I don’t know if how I share on Social Media would work on a Fan page. I’d have to switch up my flow.

And I don’t think people realize that its quality over quantity on a fan pages. If you have 100 fans and 50 of them are there because they like you personally, or they’re married to you, or they work for you, or they gave birth to you…it’s not going to be what it should be.

I know for a fact that having a small community of people who are true fans is a thousand times more valuable than a large group of fans who are made up primarily of people who clicked Like because why not. 

I see invites to Like pages and I feel bad when I don’t do it. How do you not support your bestie from third grade? She’s finally getting her customized iphone cover/hand-knit scarves/homemade candles company off the ground and you can’t do something as simple as Liking her page? Trifling.

But I believe that someone who just clicked it to click it is ultimately more damaging than helpful.

Example: I hit up one of my fellow writers when my first book dropped. I’m sure in the back of my mind (or the very front), I was wondering if he would tell his 5 trillion Friends to pick up my book.

His response when I asked him in a private message if he’d read the book:

“…i saw an excerpt or something somewhere and rolled my eyes.
luckily, i seriously doubt i’m in your demographic.”

Now C’mon y’all, do I really want this guy to be a Fan of my page? Is he going to help build my community? No and no. And that’s totally fine. [But damn kris ex, you gotta be so harsh? Ugh.]

So here I am. I had writer’s block for nearly a year. And then as swiftly as a fast-moving storm, it all came back. And there’s so much I want to do to take things to the next level. Sometimes I want to interact **specifcally** with people who are connected to me because they like, read and respect my work. So how do I connect with just those folks? Oh. Start a Fan Page. Duh.

So I’m gonna do it… However…

I once saw a post from an author who had recently started a Fan Page. He announced that he was defriending every one but close friends and family from his Facebook account and invited all to join his Fan Page instead.

I can’t tell you what happened next cause I got de-friended.

Now, do you think I clicked Like on his Fan Page?



Dear Readers: How do I transition my FB presence? Is a fan page a must-have? What do authors do differently on fan pages than they do on regular Facebook Pages? Are there authors with Fan Pages that really work? Talk to me!



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9 Responses to Fan Mail

  1. Yes to a fan page for you. Your dear readers, supporters, community, and fans are all waiting for you to create it. :-) . You got this! Xoxo….

  2. dianthe says:

    If you figure it out, let me know! Even though I was blogging regularly and worked for a nationally syndicated radio show, I joined Facebook with a personal page. After I left that job, I still continued to add “friends” I didn’t know and who only knew me from the radio show. Now that my Facebook circle has grown to include nearly all of my family (immediate and extended) and many of my lifelong friends, I feel the need for some separation. I thought I could keep just the personal page, but when a “friend” I didn’t know called my son a brat, I knew it was time to distance. I’ll take that crap on a “fan” page, but you’re not gonna come to my house and talk trash to me!

    I started by inviting everyone to join my fan page. And I’ve been trying really hard to update my fan page with the same type of content I post on my personal page. But I’m having trouble getting into the habit of updating both pages and there is still the problem of how I move everyone over. Especially because I’ve actually become friends with some of the “friends” I’ve never met.

    “I’m taking steps to make my personal Facebook a little more private, so if I don’t know you personally, I’d really appreciate it if you’d “like” my fan page so that we can stay in touch. Unless, of course, we’ve somehow developed a friendship despite the fact that we’ve never met. Y’all can stay.”

    There’s no good answer. :(

  3. Tom Head says:

    I used to have a fan page, and recommended them for other writers, but now I just ask folks to follow me instead of friending me (and then make sure anything I don’t want to share with strangers is friends-only). It seems to work out pretty well.

  4. max says:

    Let me preface my comment by saying that I work in online marketing and media and we have these kinds of discussions all the time.

    As Aliya S. King the writer, the business, the brand; the role of social media is build a community with your…well I’m not going to say fans, so I’ll say the people who feel you. Which you do. Yes technically the purpose of having a page vs. a personal profile is to build that community there and keep it separate from your personal life. And yes that’s probably what you should have done in the first place, but at this point I really think it’s semantics. And it really goes against the essential nature of marketing online to now up and start a fan page and ask people to move over there to do the same thing they’ve been doing with you all along.

    All of which is to say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If anything I’d say create a new profile for your close people where you would post things you wouldn’t want to share with your community. But creating a page just for the sake of it? Nah.

  5. negritalinda says:

    Let me begin by saying: You are good enough. You are smart enough. And Doggone it, people LOVE you! :)

    I am a really bad person to ask about this, because I don’t believe in the whole “personal branding” thing. So don’t take my advice on this AT ALL. My dreams are deferred for the time being.

    Like you, I’m a bit of a stalker (okay…a LOT of a stalker), and I will find the people I want to find. I’m also pretty good at avoiding the people I want to avoid, no matter how large their presence is, so there’s that.

    I agree with the person above. I’m not you, and I don’t know what your day-to-day is like, but you’re successful in my book. I still want to be like you when I grow up! And one of the things I love most is your humilty. You’re an amazing writer and you’re still willing to go above and beyond to help people. That’s…man, I don’t even have a proper word for it. When I see people who aren’t half as successful as you acting like they’re a stone’s throw away from Oprah, I roll my eyes. You could take a 10-year break and I’d wait patiently (I did it for Lauryn!). I’m just guessing here, but I bet your dear readers feel the same way.

    Do what you feel is best for you, but I don’t see a need to whore yourself out because that’s the “in” thing to do these days. Quality wins.

  6. aliyasking says:

    Wow. This is some serious food for thought. I think my heart is there with you. My agent thought? Not so much. If a Fan Page will help me sell three more books, he’s like, you better get to fan page-ing!

  7. aliyasking says:

    So instead of a new Fan Page that may offend someone…. create a more private FB page and let my current be the Fan Page. I like that idea.

  8. aliyasking says:

    Follow you where? on Twitter?

  9. aliyasking says:

    See. Jamilah is a marketing beast. I know she would say I need to do it!

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